Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

Live from New York

It’s Saturday Night.

In the midst of wonderful thunderstorms, sheets of rain sweeping across the city, I enjoyed a cozy Shabbos inside. We had planned to eat up on the roof, but the humidity, early on in the day, prompted us to switch to my air conditioned apartment instead. After the thunder and lightning started, but before the rain, we decided to go up to the roof, to enjoy the view and breathe some “fresh” air before the rains came. In the time it took us to climb those twenty-five stories, the skies opened up: big, heavy drops poured down on us with such force that they bounced off the roof tiles and soaked my shorts from the bottom up.

There are many things I enjoy about this region of North America, and the thunderstorms are included. For all it’s spectacular scenery and nature, Vancouver just doesn’t know from good storms.

Another thing I love is the mesh of cultures here. A friend once said that all New Yorkers are part Jewish, Irish, African American, Italian, and Latino/Latina. And I’d believe it. Two year’s ago, I was walking with two friends from the Upper West Side, where we had attended Rosh Hashanah services, to the Upper East Side, where we would be having dinner. Our walk took us through Harlem, on a fairly indirect route (these same two friends would get us lost in Central Park the next day, as we tried to cross from West to East, only to have me, the visitor, get us out of there). We passed Miss Mamie’s and a guy, eating outside, shouted at us. “Hey! Heyyy!!” We kept walking, a little unsure. “Hey! Jews!” We turned back to look at him, a little confused, and more than a little cautiously. “Shaw-naw tow-vah,” he said, with an amazingly Southern drawl and unique pronunciation that I would never have expected to hear.

Following the same vein, Friday’s encounter brought a smile to my face. I was out walking with Gwen. We passed a volunteer (African American, wearing a cross on a chain around his neck) collecting money to feed and shelter the homeless. I threw some change into his collection vessel (a large, empty, water jug, like for a water cooler). A few hours later, we passed by him again. He was still asking passers by to contribute change to help feed the homeless, provide shelter, and every penny helps! He saw me, and changed his pitch, asking for “tzedakkah” instead. I said I’d already given. He paused, looked more closely at me, and said, with a smile, “Oh yeah, you did! Thanks! Shabbat shalom!” And I smiled and kept walking.

As they say in Avenue Jew, “everyone’s a little bit Jewish.”

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Filed under: america, judaism, seasons

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